The list of things I don’t have time to do today include write this blog post. But I’m a “p” (as in ENTP) – which means I need inner world organization before I can have outer world freedom, and writing – well, it’s my way of organizing the inner world and hopefully it will help me with that pesky outer world today.
First thing –
A friend of mine had a birthday yesterday. And that’s not really a thing to write a blog about except that this friend – she has taught me so so much about friendship, about life, about God, about me. Sometimes when I’m not sure the Spirit is with me, I see Him walking right next to me inside her body; taking shape in someone who loves the same weird stuff I do; someone who is strong enough to lean on, but humble enough to encourage me to lean somewhere else; someone who in wisdom points out dangers ahead, but who trusts God enough to lay there on the floor with me when I get knocked down for as long as it takes for me to get back up; someone who is brave enough to persevere through circumstances that most of us can’t even imagine, but who has no need to highlight her suffering to win your admiration.
Typing all this out is just my way of honoring her, and setting me up to be able to say ‘I told you so’ when she is honored in front of all of you for all eternity.
Second thing (and unrelated) –
Someone once told me that sanctification is like peeling an apple down to its core. You circle the apple once and you find yourself back in the same place, but deeper in. Often we feel like – why am I back here in the same place? But the reality is, the scenery may look the same, but we’re further in, further down.
I thought I had been uniquely and irrevocably set free from fear of you. All of you: mankind. And then this week I’ve been forced to wonder if I’m not MORE afraid than I’ve ever been.
But as I’ve been processing I’ve realized maybe I have a wrong impression of freedom. I thought freedom would mean you don’t feel fear, but I’m wondering if it’s freedom to acknowledge, accept, feel, listen to your fears. And then the freedom to act however you choose. Not without fear, but through it.
Freedom from fear of man is freedom from obeying your fear of man. Truth be told – sometimes slavery feels better. Churches may not advertise that, but God does. Just ask the Israelities in the wilderness. At least back in slavery they were fed; they knew where their next meal was coming from. They knew their kids weren’t going to starve before their eyes. Sometimes freedom is scary.
Before you’re free from fear, when you just walk in it and obey it, it’s fairly easily managed. You just do what it tells you to and it goes away. It’s calmed as long as you’re living your life in line with it’s assessment of the situation; fleeing from all the dangers it perceives.
It’s when you start to do things it perceives as dangerous that fear gets very vocal. Maybe you didn’t hear about the danger it’s trying to warn you of? Maybe you don’t understand how dangerous it is? Fear does its job well – reminding you of the past, filling your mind with images of the potential future, desperate to make it’s case and convince you to behave differently.
It’s trying to help you. It really is.
And in Christ, we don’t need to ignore it or suppress it or belittle it or obey it. We can listen to that fear. Think about how fear feels. Receive it’s information (which is often very valid). We can even honor it – our fear rooted in experiences, it’s rooted in real pain and real loss. And we can gather it close and comfort our fear and say – I know. I hear you. I know it’s scary. You’re right that it’s scary. But this time – we’re going forward anyway. We will not go alone, but we will go.
And you and I – in Christ – we have this freedom right now. Today is not the day I’m set free from the fear of man. That happened to me when His Spirit took up residence in this pile of bones. That work is done.
Today is just a day I practice walking in it. Today is a day I grow in the courage to operate in who I am – even when it feels so unnatural.
I’ll leave you with this that has been echoing in my soul so loudly this week:
“Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’ ‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.”